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   The historic Hamtramck Stadium became a field of dreams for young African Americans seeking to play baseball and was home to the Detroit Stars and Detroit Wolves, of the Major Negro League in the 1930’s.
  Before they became stars, legendary players such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Turkey Stearnes of the Detroit Stars, Willie Wells, Cool Papa Bell and Mule Suttles of the Detroit Wolves and Ike Blessitt, of the Detroit Tigers, not only scored runs on the field but also scored a place in history.
  “There were so many ball players that played on that field to make it historical. I’m the only African American to play on that field since 1962 and went onto the majors,” Blessitt, who retired from baseball in 1991, said. “I was 12 years old and won the little league championship in Hamtramck. There were five African Americans on our team Bob Merca, Julius Finley, Charles Edge, Gerald Henson and myself. We were all around 12 years old.”
  Blessitt hopes to bring greater attention to the stadium that has been renamed Norman “Turkey” Stearnes Field at Historic Hamtramck Stadium. 
  He also wants to see more young African Americans get involved in baseball to continue the legacy.
  “When I signed with the Detroit Tigers, there were 27 percent of blacks playing in the major league. Today, there is only 7 percent black playing in the major league. Black people aren’t playing baseball anymore. There aren’t any leagues for blacks to play in today. They have to pay $2,500 to $5,000 to play on a traveling team. Parents can’t afford it today,” Blessitt added.
  To introduce children to baseball, Blessitt had a hitting cage built in his backyard to teach children the sport during the summer. 
  But more is needed to develop tomorrow’s Hall of Famers.
  “There are no buildings available in the winter. We need a place for our inner city kids to work out all year. People aren’t responding to my requests for help. When it comes to baseball, I have more knowledge than anyone. As a whole, we need to come together and join forces to get a building.”
  To assist with accommodating year-round baseball, call 313-778-1587. 

Bill Russell dies at 88
By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Senior National Correspondent
  Boston Celtics Legend Bill Russell, one of professional basketball’s greatest players and the sport’s most crowned champion, has died at the age of 88.
  Russell, who won 11 NBA titles as a player and two as a player-coach, died “peacefully” with his wife, Jeannine, at his side, a statement on social media said.
  Jeannine said funeral arrangements are pending.
  “But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life. From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask too-long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness, and thoughtful change,” the statement read.
  It continued: “Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded.
  “And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified, and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last and lasting win for our beloved #6.”
  President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Freedom in 2011, and Russell won five NBA Most Valuable Player awards.
  He made the All-Star team in 12 of the 13 years he played in the league. The prolific big man finished his career in 1969 with 21,620 career rebounds, an average of 22.5 per game, and led the league in rebounding four times.
  He grabbed 51 rebounds in one game, 49 in two others, and a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds.
Many viewed Russell as the greatest player in history until Michael Jordan arrived in the 1980s and 1990s and Lebron James in the 2000s.
  Born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1934, Russell’s family moved to the San Francisco area, where he attended McClymonds High School in Oakland.
He earned a scholarship to play at the University of San Francisco and helped lead the basketball school to an astounding 56 straight wins and back-to-back NCAA titles.
  As noted by ESPN, Russell was most visible as a color commentator on televised basketball games for CBS with Rick Barry.
  Russell later explained in a newspaper article that he never found a comfort zone behind the microphone.
  “The most successful television is done in eight-second thoughts, and the things I know about basketball, motivation, and people go deeper than that,” Russell told the Sacramento Bee.
  In 1974, Russell earned election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1980, he was voted Greatest Player in the History of the NBA by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America.
  He was part of the 75th Anniversary Team announced by the NBA in October 2021.

Field of Dreams